'It is not a pagoda who is talking to you; it is the unhappy King who loves you, madam.'

'A King who loves me!' replied the Princess. 'Has this King eyes, or does he need glasses? Has he not seen that I am the ugliest person in the world?'

'Yes, I have seen you, madam. All that you are, and all that you may have been, make not the least difference to me. I repeat, I love you.'

The Princess did not speak again, but she spent the rest of the night thinking over this adventure.

Every day on getting up she found new clothes and fresh jewels; it was too much homage, considering she was so ugly.

One night - it must have been the darkest night of the whole year - Laideronnette was asleep, and, on awakening, she felt that some one sat near her bed. The Princess put out her hand to feel, but somebody took her hand and kissed it, and in so doing let teardrops fall upon it. She knew full well that it must be the invisible King.

'What do you want with me?' she said. 'Can I love somebody I have never seen and do not know?'

'Ah! madam,' replied he, 'what pleasure it would give me to be able to fulfil your wish! But the wicked Magotine, who played you such a cruel trick, has done the same to me, for I am condemned to remain thus for seven years; five have already gone by and there remain another two years. You could, if you would, lessen the time and make it pass quickly for me if you would marry me; you will think that what I ask is impossible; but, madam, if you only knew how deep my love is for you, you would never refuse me the favour I ask of you.'

Laideronnette, as I have already said, thought that this invisible King was very sweet, and the love he offered was without a doubt genuine. And, in a moment of pity, she replied that she would like a few days to think over his proposal. So the days passed, and all the time the music went on and the pagodas danced and new presents arrived for her, better than those she had received before. And in the end the Princess made up her mind to marry the invisible King, and she promised to wait to see him until his time of punishment was over and he could take visible shape again.

Then the voice said: 'The consequences will be terrible for you and for me if your curiosity should overcome you, and I shall have to commence my punishment all over again; but, should you, on the other hand, stay your desire to see me, you will receive that beauty that the wicked Magotine took away from you.'

The Princess, full of this new hope, promised to keep her word to him. But after a while she had a deep desire to see her father and mother again; also her sister and her husband. The pagodas, who knew the road well, conducted the royal family to the castle of Laideronnette's father and mother; and when she saw them she nearly died of joy.

Her mother and her sister questioned Laideronnette about her husband, and Laideronnette remembered what her husband had told her; she did not like to tell her people the truth, so she told them that he was at the war fighting, and that he did not like seeing people. But her mother and sister chaffed her about him, and at last Laideronnette said that the wicked Magotine had punished him for seven years, that two remained to be finished, and that she had married him without ever having seen him; but that he was a charming person and his conversation proved the fact, and that if she held her curiosity until the two years were up, she would regain all the beauty that the fairy Magotine had taken from her.

'Ah!' replied her mother, 'is it possible that you are such a simpleton as to believe all those tales? Your husband is a huge monster; he is the King of monkeys truly.'

'I know full well,' replied Laideronnette, 'that he is the god of Love himself.'

'What a terrible mistake!' screamed the Queen Bellote.

The poor Princess was so confused and upset that, after giving them the presents, she resolved to go and see her husband. Ah, fatal curiosity! She took a little lamp with her that she might be able to see him the better. What was her surprise when, instead of Love, she saw the Green Serpent! He drew himself up in rage and sorrow:

'O wicked one!' cried he; 'is this the return for all my love for you?'

Now Magotine, knowing that Laideronnette and the Green Serpent were in trouble, came to add to their sorrow and taunt them. She took away, with one wave of her wand, all the lovely castles and fountains and gardens. And Laideronnette, seeing all that she had done, was very troubled. So, during the night, Laideronnette deplored her sad fate. Then, high up near the stars, she saw coming towards her the Green Serpent.

'I always make you afraid,' he cried; 'but you are infinitely dear to me.'

'Is it you, Serpent, dear lover; is it you?' cried Laideronnette. 'Can you forgive me for my fatal curiosity?'

'Ah! how the sorrow of absence troubles this loving heart!' replied the Serpent, with never a word of reproach to Laideronnette for her broken promise.

Magotine, now, was one of those fairies who never slept at all: the wish to do harm and never to miss the chance kept her awake; and she did not fail to hear the conversation between the King Serpent and his spouse; and she came down upon them in a fury.

'Now then, Green Serpent,' said she, 'I order you for your punishment to go right to the good Proserpine, and give her my compliments.'

The poor Green Serpent went at once with great sighs, leaving the Queen in sorrow. And Laideronnette cried out:

'What crime have we committed now, you wicked Magotine? I am certain that the poor King, whom you have sent to the bottomless pit of hell, was as innocent as I myself am; but let me die: it is the least you can do.'

'You would be too happy,' said Magotine, 'were I to listen and grant you your wish. I will send you to the bottom of the sea.' So saying, she took the poor Princess to the top of the highest mountain and tied a mill-stone about her neck, telling her that she was to go down and bring enough Water of Discretion to fill up her great big glass. The Princess said that it was absolutely impossible to carry all that water.